Children have a lot of insights, are empathetic, and have the ability to come out with innovative solutions to their own problems. All that they need is a platform.
Terre des Hommes Netherlands and its Girls’ Advocacy Alliance (GAA) programme gives them that very platform through the Youth Advocacy intervention. Under this, adolescents (primarily girls) are sensitised on child rights, girl child issues, child protection laws, and are trained on advocacy tools.
These youngsters have been successful in raising their voice and representing issues of children on various platforms, getting higher authority officials to acknowledge their opinions and suggestions.
To celebrate this effort, on the International Day of the Girl Child, a total of 240 Youth Advocates across districts of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana were congratulated for their great work so far. The day was observed in collaboration with Civil Society Organisations, Government Officers, and the GAA staff.
An interesting feature of this celebration was that district magistrates invited the Youth Advocates to become the government officers for the day. The positions offered by the Government were the Project Director for Women Development and Child Welfare, Child Development Project Officers, Project Director, District Rural Development Authority, and Municipality Commissioners among others.
The objective of this exercise apart from acknowledging children’s efforts was to keep their morale up, which was at risk of slightly deterring as a result of the panic surrounding the pandemic.
The excited and driven advocates made decisions and passed orders during their day long position for the benefit of and in the best interest of the girl child. Some of the decisions made by these youth advocates were compensation to the trafficked girl child by the trafficker and sponsorship assistance to the girl child who is a victim of child marriage.
This real time practical experience was a great reward to the children for their efforts in raising their voice for a better world. It was an acknowledgement that children are responsible and can definitely be change makers.
“One day I will be the full time director of the Women and Child Welfare department”, said Santoshini, the one day project director of the department.
Besides the above, the advocates were honoured with bouquets and some of them planted saplings of trees as a sign of their advocacy action, promising to continue their action along with the growth of these trees.